Friday, October 29, 2010

This is what CAT bulldozers do in Palestine

Tell your friends to ask TIAA-CREF to stop investing in CAT now.

Dear  Frederick,

I have remarkable news. The Israeli press is reporting that Caterpillar is withholding the delivery of tens of D9 bulldozers—valued at $50 million—to the Israeli military.(1) These are weaponized bulldozers that are used to illegally destroy homes and orchards of Palestinian families. And they are the very same bulldozers as the one that killed a 23-year-old American peace activist named Rachel Corrie seven years ago when she tried to protect the home of the Nasrallah family in Gaza.

This is not an earthquake.

That's why the next part of the story is even more amazing. The news reports say that the deliveries have been suspended now because Rachel's parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie, are bringing a civil suit against the government of Israel in a court in Tel Aviv.(2) The deliveries are to stop during the length of the trial. We take this as an indirect admission by the company that these bulldozers are being used to violate human rights and to violate the law. The Corrie story is sadly just one of thousands of stories of loss and pain.

A suspension of the sale of bulldozers is what we have been asking Caterpillar for over seven years now. This is a great win, but this is no time to let off the pressure.

Caterpillar and the U.S. government have neither confirmed nor denied the news. And news reports describe the company's move as a temporary decision only. To urge the U.S. government to make this policy permanent, please sign the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation’s petition to President Obama to continue this new policy.

We need to hold both our government and corporations profiting from the occupation accountable. TIAA-CREF, one of the largest financial services in the United States, invests heavily in Caterpillar (over $250 million as of their last financial report). Thanks to you, we've already gathered over 17,000 in our petition to TIAA-CREF, asking it to divest from Caterpillar and other companies that profit from the Israeli occupation. But we need more! Tell your friends to sign our petition. If TIAA-CREF divests from Caterpillar, it will have a rippling impact everywhere.

Since 2003, Jewish Voice for Peace has been filing annual shareholder resolutions to pressure Caterpillar with a growing coalition of interfaith partners. We've organized protests. We've taken over a CAT dealership. We've worked in support of Presbyterian and Methodist divestment initiatives from the company, and with your help, we are asking TIAA-CREF to divest from Caterpillar as well.

Caterpillar has never budged... until now.

Caterpillar's irresponsible behavior comes with a heavy price tag. In the last ten years, at least 11,795 homes have been demolished.(3) These statistics, gruesome as they are, cannot do justice to the pain of so many families, to their razed livelihoods and their shattered dreams.

The picture above does not come from an earthquake scene. It depicts the man-made destruction and the hopelessness that the Caterpillar bulldozers bring at the hand of the soldiers who wield them. Let's make sure that this is the last picture of this kind we get to see.

Tell your friends to ask TIAA-CREF to stop investing in CAT now.

Thank you and shabbat shalom,

Sydney Levy
Jewish Voice for Peace

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Desmond Tutu calls on South African opera company to boycott Israel

Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu has urged a South African opera company to boycott Israel, comparing its treatment of Palestinians to his own country's era of racial apartheid.

David Smith in Johannesburg, Wednesday 27 October 2010 14.34 BST
Article history

Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu said to perform Porgy and Bess in Israel now is "unconscionable".
Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian

The Nobel peace prize laureate said it would be "unconscionable" for Cape Town Opera to perform in Israel while millions of people there are denied access to culture and education.

But the opera company today insisted that it would go ahead with next month's tour of the American classic Porgy and Bess, while Tutu's stand was condemned by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies.

The 79-year-old, who earlier this month announced his retirement from public life, issued a statement that said: " Just as we said during apartheid that it was inappropriate for international artists to perform in South Africa in a society founded on discriminatory laws and racial exclusivity, so it would be wrong for Cape Town Opera to perform in Israel.

"Cape Town Opera should postpone its proposed tour next month until both Israeli and Palestinian opera lovers of the region have equal opportunity and unfettered access to attend performances."

Tutu, a veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle and campaign to free Nelson Mandela, continued: "Only the thickest-skinned South Africans would be comfortable performing before an audience that excluded residents living, for example, in an occupied West Bank village 30 minutes from Tel Aviv, who would not be allowed to travel to Tel Aviv, while including his Jewish neighbours from an illegal settlement on occupied Palestinian territory.

"The Tel Aviv Opera House is state sponsored. By luring international artists to perform there, it advances Israel's fallacious claim to being a 'civilised democracy'. Yet, every day, millions of citizens are denied the right to educational and cultural opportunities in Israel and the Palestinian territories it occupies."

Tutu added: "Please, fine singers of the Cape Town Opera: much as it offers you opportunities to travel abroad and show the world what we can do, listen to your conscience. God loves Jews and Muslims equally. To perform Porgy and Bess, with its universal message of non-discrimination, in the present state of Israel, is unconscionable."

But the plea was rejected by Cape Town Opera. Michael Williams, its managing director, said today: "Cape Town Opera respects the views held by retired Archbishop Tutu. We are, however, first and foremost an arts company that believes in promoting universally held human values through the medium of opera and we are accordingly reluctant to adopt the essentially political position of disengagement from cultural ties with Israel or with Palestine."

He added: "I am proud that our artists, when travelling abroad, act as ambassadors and exemplars of the free society that has been achieved in democratic South Africa. Indeed, the production of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess in question has, in our view, much which should provide food for thought for audiences in Israel."

Williams said discussions for the visit to Israel began four years ago and that negotiations to perform "within the Arab world" are ongoing.

Tutu's stand was criticised by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (Cape Council). Its executive director, David Jacobson, said: "Peace and understanding are best served through constructive and positive engagements between Israel, South Africa and the Palestinian regions, not by boycotts."

He added: "The SAJBD Cape Council further completely rejects Archbishop Tutu's claim that Israel is founded on 'discriminatory laws and racial exclusivity'. There is, in fact, no other country in the Middle East that can claim to be as inclusive, non-discriminatory and multicultural than Israel."

Tutu caused controversy last month when he supported Johannesburg University's (UJ) decision to sever links with Israel's Ben-Gurion University, accused of actively supporting the Israeli military, unless it meets two conditions within six months.

UJ stipulated that its memorandum of understanding with Ben-Gurion should be amended to include Palestinian universities and that UJ "will not engage in any activities with [Ben-Gurion] that have direct or indirect military implications".

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Flash Dance for Boycott Hits West Philly Supermarket


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